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Old 24th August 2014, 11:36   #1
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Default Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip

Every exciting journey has an end. But I wished that this journey had never ended because of its sheer beauty and enchanting appeal. Apologies for posting this so late but its better late than never. This trip was done during Sep 2013 and im writing this travelogue late as I was not a member of this forum then. Neverthless I wanted to share the wonderful experience that I had in Italy during September 2013.

During June 2013 we came to know that My wife was supposed to go on an official business for 15 days to Milan. Thats when we decided to plan for a vacation in Italy and started searching on internet for various options. I had a plan decided in my mind that there would be a mandatory road-trip along winding roads of Amalfi coast and scenic Tuscan countryside. As these places are too awesome for a laid back drive enjoying nature at my own speed. Hence I am going to split this travelogue into two pieces to simplify it. The entire trip was done with a combination of night train, high speed train, local metro, local bus, self drive and last but not the least by foot. All the bookings (train,car rental, hotel etc) were done online a month and half in advance to get the best price. We meticulously planned each and every leg of the trip so that we didnt miss our transport.

My wife left to Italy 2 weeks before our trip and I left to Milan on 5th Sep by Air France/Alitalia via Paris. Though it was long tiring journey especially the transfer at Paris CDG, I was mentally very very pumped up for what lay ahead of me. I will directly fast forward to Sorrento, Italy as I will highlight only the road-trip part of my trip here. All the photos were taken using Nikon D5100 with 18-55mm lens and 55-300mm zoom lens.

Before the road trip we board a Bed & Breakfast at Sorrento. Visit Pompeii ruins and the island of Capri which consumes 2 days of our trip. On the 3rd day we drive from Sorrento to Salerno along Amalfi coast.

PART 1: Amalfi Coast (Sorrento to Salerno via Positano, Amalfi and Ravello)

At 9AM we set out from our bed and breakfast (yes after a heavy breakfast) on foot to Hertz office in Via Capo, Sorrento. I had booked for a small car(keeping in mind the narrow roads in Amalfi), but to my shock they had a RenaulT Megane (hatch) 1.5 dCI. It was my first time driving a left hand drive car and boy I was nervous. I was regularly searching for gear lever using my right hand instinctively and ended up hitting the driver side window pretty hard. I had a Lumia 520 loaded with offline maps of Italy, but still i didnt want to take a chance and opted for a GPS. We took the car returned to our B&B and loaded our luggage in the trunk and set the destination to Positano and started driving. Even smallest of the smallest towns in Italy are crowded and traffic actually crawls during peak hours. After battling it out for about 45 mins we hit the Amalfi coast road and was able to feel the mediterranean on the passenger side. My wife thoroughly enjoyed the view as this was her first road trip along a major sea coast, overseas. After few kilometers the traffic completely dwindled and I started loving the drive, rolled down the windows and started the enjoy the sunshine, mediterranean breeze and the sound from the Megane Diesel pot. We stopped along many view points to enjoy the mountains on one side and vast mediterranean sea on the other with occassional passing clouds. Posting few pics.

This was the route which we took:

Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-route_amalfi.jpg

Drive through narrow roads of Sorrento town:
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Now we hit the coastal road winding along the hill on one side and Mediterranean on the other:
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This was our ride - Renault Megane 1.5 dCI:
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Distant view of Positano from one of the view points enroute:
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Just before noon we arrived in Positano, because of the sheer number of vehicles parked hap-hazardly along the road I didnt feel like stopping and checking out Positano. Instead we continued our drive towards the town of Amalfi. On the way we stopped at a village to check with the locals there about places of interest nearby. The problem was I (with no knowledge of Italian) and an old man (with no knowledge of English) tried to communicate with eachother about places of interest. It was quiet a sight and finally with lot of hand actions and broken Italian and English all i could understand was "Ravello, Bellisimo". I knew Bellissino meant "Beautiful", courtesy an latin/italian song of 90s. Happy that I found a lone place of interest, we jumped into the car programmed the GPS to Ravello and incidently it was after Amalfi. On the way to Amalfi we stopped again at a Pizzeria for lunch. It was a beautiful restaurant by the side of mediterranean.

View of Positano just after crossing it:
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Ravello is a small village on top of a hill and boy it had amazing bird's eye view of the coast below. Posting some of the pics.

Bird's eye view of the sea from Ravello:
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Town Center:
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Now we climb down and pay a visit to Amalfi and sit on the beach enjoying the sun. Had a small swim at Amalfi beach. Water was very cold when compared to the air temperature at that time of the year. Nevertheless it was fun and enjoyed the short swim.

Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0908.jpg

At Amalfi:
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It was almost sun down and we decided to directly goto Salerno, find our hotel and retire for the day. We reached the motorway and it was a pretty smooth drive from then on till Salerno. It took about an hour and half drive from Amalfi to Salerno and we had tough time finding the hotel since the GPS was not having accurate hotel details.

The next day we wake up early as we have a high speed train to catch to Rome. Tanked up the car with Diesel from a nearby bunk. Also AVIS office was just opposite to the station at Salerno, hence we packup early and reach the station.

View from hotel balcony (Hotel Mediterranean, Salerno):
Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0912.jpg

Outside Salerno Station, AVIS was just behind from where Im clicking this pic:
Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0916.jpg

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We arrive pretty early to the station (as I was worried about the traffic near the station due to many one-ways). Pass our time by wandering near the station and head off to Rome.

Part 2 - Drive through Tuscany.

This leg of journey is split into 2 parts, i.e.

1. Florence to Siena (through SR222 state highway popularly known as Chianti Drive). We retire for the day at Siena.
2. Siena to Pisa via Lucca and Back to Florence. Lucca is an old walled city with spectacular old buildings.

As per our plan we arrived in Florence and a day went by in exploring Uffizi gallery, Pitti Palace and older parts of Florence city. We were put up at a service apartment just about 2 kms from main station (SMN) in Florence. This time I had booked a FIAT PANDA 1.4 Petrol from SixT. SixT had an office at Florence Airport (Amerigo Vespucci Airport).

As decided we took a taxi to Airport and rented the car. Surprisingly they asked for International driving licence at SixT and didnt ask for it at Hertz. However I did take an international Driving licence just before I left Bangalore to avoid any last minute surprises and also there were information on many blogs that carabinieri would randomly set up road blocks and start checking vehicle papers and driving licence. And during this leg of road trip i decided not to rent GPS as I had validated HERE MAPS (Nokia) + offline Maps and they are fairly accurate. The route map is given below. We hit the A1 motorway and take the exit into SR222 at Florence South and drive all the way on SR222 till it merges with SP119 and take the motorway in the final leg towards Siena.
Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-siena.jpg

On SR222:

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Last edited by kiran_cr : 1st September 2014 at 23:08.
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Old 1st September 2014, 23:36   #2
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The twisting and winding roads give way to spectacular views of wineries. Its just acres and acres of wineries on the entire stretch.

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View of our ride:
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Lucky Chap whoever is living amidst such a beautiful terrain:


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There were many bikers en-route:

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View from place where we stopped for a quick bite:

Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0330.jpg

Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0334.jpg

Again we hit the road:

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Our PIT-STOP for the evening - Hotel More Di Cuna:


Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0449.jpg

Next day its time to say bye-bye to Siena and head towards Pisa via Lucca. Route map is given below, its completely on motorway and hence it was a breeze to drive till we reached Lucca.

Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-pisa.jpg

Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0451.jpg

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We arrive at the walled city of Lucca. Park the car just outside the main railway station and walk towards the old city.

Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0475.jpg

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Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0490.jpg

Last edited by kiran_cr : 2nd September 2014 at 00:18.
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Old 1st September 2014, 23:57   #3
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Just upon entering the old city:

Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0492.jpg

Enjoy the narrow lanes and by-lanes of the old city:

Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0494.jpg

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Piazza @ Lucca:

Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0514.jpg

Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0515.jpg

More narrow by lanes:


Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0517.jpg

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Heading towards Pisa from Lucca. I did a major blunder here, inorder to save few Euros as toll, I decided to take roads through small villages unknowing that there are many ZTL's across many villages. ZTL is a zone where only vehicles of local residents are permitted and rented cars are surely charged penalty. However I was lucky to get away but what I got in return was absolute pleasure to drive.

Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0545.jpg

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And behold the tower which is leaning for the past few centuries

Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0577.jpg

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Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0586.jpg

Last edited by kiran_cr : 2nd September 2014 at 00:07.
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Old 2nd September 2014, 00:15   #4
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More pictures in and around the leaning tower.

Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0591.jpg

Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0594.jpg

Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0621.jpg

After our tryst with the leaning tower, we made our way back to Florence to return the car on-time so that we could catch the last shuttle bus from Florence airport to Florence Santa Maria Novella main railway station as we had a train to catch to Milan.

Did take a few pics of flights taking off from Florence Airport while we were parking the car at SixT's parking slot.

Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0627.jpg

Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-dsc_0632.jpg

Just posting the maximum speed the train achieved during our ride back to Milan.
Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip-wp_20130922_015.jpg

Milan was our starting and the ending point of this trip. We boarded our flights back to Bangalore from Milan.

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Old 3rd September 2014, 09:01   #5
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Default Re: Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 3rd September 2014, 09:58   #6
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Default Re: Buongiorno Italia: Amalfi Coast Road-Trip

Nice pictures. Anyone see these will be tempted to plan on an Italian tour for next summer.
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Old 3rd September 2014, 14:37   #7
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Nice pictures. Being in Italy your travelogue would have been incomplete without a shot of the Ferrari

I simply love the charm and simplicity of the old towns and cities of these European countries.
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Old 3rd September 2014, 20:11   #8
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Thanks Joe_antony and S2. Yea it was a nice vacation to plan and there are many more road-trips which are beautiful and hope to enjoy them as well in the near future. SOme of the buildings are 100's of years old and yeah they have preserved it well.
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Old 7th September 2014, 14:34   #9
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Nice travelogue Kiran, short & crisp. The pics are actually tempting me to plan a road trip to Italy sooner than later. The roads with such beautiful landscape around is so inviting. I could keep driving on them all day
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Old 8th September 2014, 21:47   #10
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Originally Posted by suhas_raj View Post
Nice travelogue Kiran, short & crisp. The pics are actually tempting me to plan a road trip to Italy sooner than later. The roads with such beautiful landscape around is so inviting. I could keep driving on them all day

Thanks Suhas. Please do plan and its one of the few places which is a must visit.
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Old 13th September 2014, 15:47   #11
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Beautiful picture buddy.

From my visits to Italy and interacting with the clients there, I feel they truly know the meaning of 'leisure' and 'family time'. I have experienced the traditional Italian meal time with a four course menu and the excellent wines. It used to stretch into hours with everyone enjoying each others company.

Did you feel that they are quite an expressive lot with hand gestures used more than often. Its always fun to see two passionate Italians talking!

On another note, Italy is actually 'Punto Land', the only place I guess where the Punto outsells every other hatchback including the Swift.

Offtopic: I also spotted our humble Indica (the earlier version) during my recent trip to the country.

Last edited by trek : 13th September 2014 at 15:49.
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Old 13th September 2014, 19:12   #12
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Originally Posted by trek View Post
Beautiful picture buddy.

From my visits to Italy and interacting with the clients there, I feel they truly know the meaning of 'leisure' and 'family time'. I have experienced the traditional Italian meal time with a four course menu and the excellent wines. It used to stretch into hours with everyone enjoying each others company.

Did you feel that they are quite an expressive lot with hand gestures used more than often. Its always fun to see two passionate Italians talking!

On another note, Italy is actually 'Punto Land', the only place I guess where the Punto outsells every other hatchback including the Swift.

Offtopic: I also spotted our humble Indica (the earlier version) during my recent trip to the country.

Thanks Trek. Yea Italians are an expressive lot. They have proper "Siesta" time from 1PM to 4PM. Now thats what is known as leisure. And I admired their sense of style and dressing up. Its truly amazing and they are very very stylish. Nevertheless Milan is known as one of the fashion capitals of the world. There is a saying that no two women wear the same type/style of shoes in Milan.

You are right there were lot of Puntos. Lots of Fiats in general and i found equal number of Renaults as well. But what amazed me was the sheer number of Diesel cars. I saw more Diesel cars than Petrol.

Well I didnt see any Indica in Italy and except Rome (incl Vatican) and Pisa, I frankly didnt find many Indians either
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Old 13th September 2014, 20:59   #13
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Lovely Pictures and nice travelogue
I love Italy and your photographs have just reinforced the wonderful memories!
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Old 14th September 2014, 11:19   #14
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Originally Posted by kiran_cr View Post
Thanks Trek. Yea Italians are an expressive lot. They have proper "Siesta" time from 1PM to 4PM. Now thats what is known as leisure. And I admired their sense of style and dressing up. Its truly amazing and they are very very stylish. Nevertheless Milan is known as one of the fashion capitals of the world. There is a saying that no two women wear the same type/style of shoes in Milan.

You are right there were lot of Puntos. Lots of Fiats in general and i found equal number of Renaults as well. But what amazed me was the sheer number of Diesel cars. I saw more Diesel cars than Petrol.

Well I didnt see any Indica in Italy and except Rome (incl Vatican) and Pisa, I frankly didnt find many Indians either
+100 to their fabulous dressing sense. They know the fine line between truly chic and downright vulgar, something that Americans confuse a lot.
Even the men are so well dressed and carry an easy casual vibe while still being elegant.

Yea, the diesel proportion is quite high. I am not sure about this but I found the Punto engines to be quite noisy compared to their counterparts in India! Maybe it was because of the usual silence all around and the absence of honking which made it more audible!
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Old 14th September 2014, 23:48   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shankar.balan View Post
Lovely Pictures and nice travelogue
I love Italy and your photographs have just reinforced the wonderful memories!
Thanks Shankar for your comment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by trek View Post
+100 to their fabulous dressing sense. They know the fine line between truly chic and downright vulgar, something that Americans confuse a lot.
Even the men are so well dressed and carry an easy casual vibe while still being elegant.

Yea, the diesel proportion is quite high. I am not sure about this but I found the Punto engines to be quite noisy compared to their counterparts in India! Maybe it was because of the usual silence all around and the absence of honking which made it more audible!

Yup, absence of honking is a boon in any place outside of India. You will hardly use car horn.
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